Monday, June 23, 2014

Was ancient Malawi Mbona’s scent like Shakespeare’s Eglantine?

Do these bush ‘roses’ exist in Malawi and if they do what is their Chichewa name?
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”
― William ShakespeareA Midsummer Night’s Dream

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing byWilliam Blake, c. 1786
A young dread-locked bearded man dressed in a simple pink shirt and brown trousers with a brown fedora complimenting the odd colours he is wearing, stares in the distance at the older woman of his dreams, his eyes intense with love.

He watches her every move but does not dare disturb or ask her any question but just keeps on staring at her, his eyes piercing her soul and speaking with kindness.
The woman can sense eyes on her and when she turns around she sees the object of her curiosity.
Two almond eyes glancing at her till she asks him a question.  She’s visiting an elderly person who is in a wheel-chair and sick and he cannot explain to her where the Ladies is so that she can relief herself.
Asking the mysterious man before her outside, he points at a nearby pit latrine and specifically tells her to use the first out of the two.
The woman remembers how the elderly man told her not to use the pit latrines as they were mostly likely filthy with the number of casual workers on the premises using them.
Defiant the woman enters one pit latrine and is surprised to find it sparkling clean as if someone had cleaned it up all of a sudden.
Source of eglantine?
She also can’t resist a sweet fragrance like an expensive French perfume filling the air as she helps herself.
When leaving she is surprised to smell the fragrance even more and to see all sorts of flowers appearing as she makes her way to the house but the scent still hitting her nose.
Unknown to the woman that is the ancient scent of the spiritual realm to be exact Mbona and Nyangu of ancient Malawi go some oral stories.
According to healers, she had met Mbona appearing as a human but not knowing that. She is believed to be the first Nyangu made “new” meaning a winged spirit born of a human being.
The first Mbona spirit has been waiting for centuries to get back this first Nyangu who fell from grace but back as a new person go other Sapitwa tales never ever told before.
It is considered to be the love story of centuries because the other version of Mbona won’t let her go despite all the wrong things she did including committing adultery among other spiritual crimes in the beginning goes another Sapitwa “oracle” told to this blog.
This Isis ankh Internet photo resembles the Knot of Nyangu for life
From that day on she would sense his presence by that fragrance which would suddenly appear in the air around her.
However this blog does not know if it’s also used as incense (lubani) bearing in mind some of the ancestors of this ancient land were like Nomads and travelling to or from some parts of the world according to information sourced from a Sapitwa healer.
In such a case the woman Mbona has chosen would become his wife and be given the name Nyangu according to some oral stories from Sapitwa.
Mbona and Nyangu in some ancient Malawi teachings were spirits (mizimu) from the beginning of time who are sometimes born again as human beings although they are from the spiritual realm of Sapitwa in such beliefs.

Mbona as an upright white python is said to only have “spirit wives” who are human beings and their role is in ancient African prophecy (ulosi wakale).

Illustration of Mbona as a boy…he’s a young male spirit who always has older women as a wife
This mythical serpent is said to lick the chosen woman everywhere from head to toe to wipe her and clean her of darkness (kupukuta)….meaning to assist open her spiritual self and see the past and future among other things by removing the ancient veil of secrecy so that her eyes see (kuona) which is the basis of Mbona’s name.

Its presence is also believed to come along with a specific scent throughout the air and symbolizes life since serpent spirits are considered to be immortal.
Now from this belief it is said that in life sometimes the sweetest things are not easy to find and get hence the sweetness of a flower or fruit and it’s thorns.  When you try and touch, it pricks but you don’t give up till you do….which is the symbolic way to the Mbona spirit according to oral tales.
This scent might also be the one used in the ancient Knot of Nyangu which was a cloth with a small wreath from Sapitwa in the middle tied into a knot and put on the nose to give spiritual power.
Holding a knot of Nyangu which
belongs to a Sapitwa healer
 in Mulanje
In Malawi and among some traditional healers, scents play a major role when dealing with the spiritual realm.
For example a healer can put up a sack or cardboard ‘consultation room’ in town and have a space which smells like a pit latrine to those who have witchraft (ufiti) but sweet to those who are not witches and good.
It’s quite a spectacle to see those who don’t know explaining what scent they smelled and those who believe in such tales drawing their own conclusions.
This blog has always wondered what the scent is and can only conclude it might be Eglantine Rose.  There is the Rosa rubiginosa which is also used a food and also known as Sweet briar.
Internet Knot of Isis photo…
it’s always held near the chest which symbolizes fire
It’s a rose species native to western Africa and Europe, where the rosehips obtained from the plant are quite healthy, as they are enriched with good amount of vitamin C reads

“It is a dense deciduous shrub 2–3 m high and across, with the stems bearing numerous hooked prickles. The foliage has a strong apple-like fragrance.
 “The leaves are pinnate, 5–9 cm long, with 5–9 rounded to oval leaflets with a serrated margin, and numerous glandular hairs.
The flowers are 1.8–3 cm diameter, the five petals being pink with a white base, and the numerous stamens yellow; the flowers are produced in clusters of 2–7 together, from late spring to mid-summer. The fruit is a globose to oblong red hip 1–2 cm diameter,” states the unofficial online encylopaedia at

However, it is listed as a Category 1 Declared Weed in South Africa. These plants may no longer be planted or propagated, and all trade in their seeds, cuttings or other propagative material is prohibited according to

Rosa rubiginosa, more especially Eglantine Rose is also in ‘A Midnight Dream’ comedy play by Shakespeare written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta.

“These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (mechanicals), who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. 

The play is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world,” according to the unofficial online Wikpedia.
 *This blog is still investigating the Rosa rubiginosa and Eglantine Rose to confirm its ancient Malawi and if it’s Chichewa name was Kupukuta (wipe) or something like that.

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of Sapitwa and the Sirius star. this space.